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Reader question: What’s the latest on Italy’s building superbonus?

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
Reader question: What’s the latest on Italy’s building superbonus?
A view of construction works in the outskirts of Rome. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Italy’s building ‘superbonus’ has been in the news again after a vote on a new amendment. So what exactly is changing this time and what does this mean for homeowners?

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If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with at least some of the history behind Italy’s ‘superbonus', a hugely popular government scheme offering generous discounts to homeowners carrying out renovation works.

The bonus has been in the news again this week after parliament approved a new amendment last Wednesday, leaving many homeowners wondering exactly what is changing this time and what this means for them.

The superbonus has been plagued by credit transfer issues ever since 2021, when banks stopped buying up credits following the introduction of tighter rules aimed at preventing fraudulent claims. 

This created major bottlenecks within the system which ended up stalling thousands of renovation projects and leaving thousands of construction businesses at risk of bankruptcy.

Blocked credits and the scheme’s rising costs (the superbonus' bill may ultimately stand at 150 billion euros, more than 100 billion over initial estimates) led the government to first slash the maximum available rebate and then scrap the most popular claiming routes for all new claims.

READ ALSO: Can you still buy Italy’s one-euro homes in 2024?

But after some national banks resumed buying credits last summer, albeit under stringent conditions, the changes approved by parliament last week may once again bring the transfer system to a standstill, putting homeowners and businesses at risk of not being able to claim the bonus (or not doing so in time to avoid default).

As of January 1st 2025, banks and other financial intermediaries will no longer be able to offset superbonus credits bought from homeowners or businesses with social security (INPS) and occupational insurance (INAIL) contributions, according to the latest decree.

Scaffolding on the facade of a building undergoing renovation work in Rome

Scaffolding on the facade of a building undergoing renovation work in Rome. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

This is under plans to prevent superbonus-related fraud (Italy seized ‘fake’ credits for a total of 8.5 billion euros last week), with banks flouting the rule facing fines of up to 30 percent of the unduly offset credit.

The ban will essentially strip banks of one of the most popular instruments used so far to ‘digest’ superbonus credits and will be retroactive, meaning it will apply to credits accrued prior to its introduction next January.

According to Antonio Patuelli, president of Italy’s banking association ABI, banks "will absolutely have to stop" buying superbonus credits as a result of the measure, which in turn may land businesses and homeowners “in situations leading them to default”.

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Italy’s campaign group Associazione Esodati del Superbonus has estimated that some 1.5 million families may be left without a way to claim the rebate if no alternative solution is found. 

Last Wednesday, Patuelli stressed the importance of creating “an instrument” capable of purchasing blocked credits and involving both public and private parties.

READ ALSO: Five things non-residents need to know about buying property in Italy

The right-wing Forza Italia party – a member of Italy’s ruling coalition – has also recently advanced plans for the creation of a new credit institution directly controlled by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), though there are no further details on the proposal at present. 

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Plans to create a credit-trading platform to unclog blockages are by no means new.

Last April, the government identified the creation of a new trading platform by energy giant Enel X as one of the main solutions to the logjam, but the project was permanently scrapped in early September.  

Blocked or as-yet-unclaimed credits relative to all of Italy’s building bonuses were estimated to stand at a total of 135 billion last November.

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